Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Right vs. Outcome - Who wins?

While reading a book I came across a debate concerning the difference between Utilitarian beliefs and the beliefs of a Christian. It was interesting and I'd highly recommend the book. It made me think, and so I looked up information on Utilitarian beliefs.

The principle of utility states that an action is "right if it produces as much or more of an increase in happiness of all affected by it than any alternative action, and wrong if it does not"

The interesting part to me was how it was put up against Christianity. With Christianity, there are standards of right and wrong. Some things are 'right' even though the outcome might not be pleasant or bring happiness, but it's still 'right'. That would mean we have a simple guideline to follow, here is right - do it. Whether you like it or not, whether people like you for it or not, here is right - do it. That was what Christ did when He walked the earth, and that is what God expects of us.

So it makes me wonder if deep down, as much as we try and avoid unhappiness if we aren't more utilitarian than we'd like to believe. We want people to be happy, we want them to like us and we base our decisions largely on what will happen if we do xyz. How many times have you known the right thing to do and simply did it not really not thinking of the consequences but not caring about the consequences?

In my recent struggle the thing that kept me from doing the right thing was the consequences of the actions. Right and wrong were cast aside as I discovered my utilitarian roots and decided to go with what would make the most people happy.

I know this never seems to apply to you, so no one will probably think this is food for them. But I'm hoping, the next time you find yourself in a serious struggle and you don't know what to do... I hope you'll remember this post and ask yourself if you're willing to do what is right regardless of the outcome.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You said, "Some things are 'right' even though the outcome might not be pleasant or bring happiness, but it's still 'right'. That would mean we have a simple guideline to follow, here is right - do it. Whether you like it or not, whether people like you for it or not, here is right - do it. That was what Christ did when He walked the earth, and that is what God expects of us."

Where is the scriptures that back this up?

flyawaynet said...

It's actually most easily shown in my most recent troubles. The bible tells me the 'right' thing to do. Matthew 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
In my situation that was the right thing to do. Confronting a fellow church member wouldn't of been pleasant for me, wouldn't of been pleasant for them, and quite possibly could of ended up with an entire church mad at me for causing a stir. But that didn't change the "right" thing.